We’re all familiar with the proverb, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”
When applied to a network, it’s only as secure as its most vulnerable component. And in the context of multiple branches connected to a network, each location creates a series of additional links in the chain that can potentially be exploited.
As we’ve covered in other blog posts (Part One | Part Two), cybersecurity should be a major priority for nearly all businesses. Today we are looking specifically at securing a network across multiple locations. In this scenario, you have all of the cybersecurity risks that we’ve covered previously but with more points of attack for bad actors. In order to help you protect sensitive data and mitigate cybersecurity risks, here are the top four tips for branch network security.
1. Implement SD-WAN
There are many ways to connect branches to a single network, but SD-WAN is a top choice for a variety of reasons. SD-WAN stands for “Software-defined Wide Area Network.” It’s a cloud-based service that can be implemented “over the top” of any network, where each location uses an SD-WAN device to connect to the network via encrypted tunnels. These tunnels enable built-in VPN capabilities that protect data in transit from interception or tampering.
SD-WANs provide centralized management across all locations through an SD-WAN controller.
This enables the administrator to set the policies that govern traffic flow and data transfer, apply uniform security protocols, make network-wide software updates, and enact universal security measures.
This level of granular control over the entire network enables full visibility into network traffic to spot anomalies and stop potential security breaches from spreading to other branch locations. If you want to learn more about SD-WAN, read this blog post.
2. Build the Branch Network Around Cybersecurity Best Practices
SD-WAN accomplishes a key best practice of using VPNs, and it also enables or facilitates many others, including:
- Network Segmentation: Dividing the network based on departmental requirements and security levels. This makes it easier to monitor critical areas of the network and limit the impact of a security breach.
- Strong Access Control Policies: Whenever possible, require strong passwords (a minimum of 12 characters with uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers), multi-factor authentication (MFA), and role-based access controls (RBAC).
- Deploy Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS): IDPS tools go beyond intrusion detection systems (IDS). Both monitor the network traffic for threats, but IDPS tools will automatically take preventive action to contain the threat.
- Schedule Regular Updates: This applies to security software like firewalls and network devices, such as routers and servers.
3. Continual Training for All Personnel
Make no mistake, the people who use the network are the biggest security threat to the network. Even the most secure IT infrastructure and the best cybersecurity tools can be circumvented by a phishing attack or a weak password that’s easy to crack.
This makes cybersecurity training one of the most important elements of branch network security.
Although we go into greater detail in a previous cybersecurity blog post, some of the essential points of “cyber hygiene” training are:
- Using multi-factor authentication (MFA)
- How to make a secure password and why it should never be reused
- How phishing works and how to avoid it
- How spoofing works and how to avoid it
There are two other important points regarding training. One is that it must apply to all personnel, including executives. Hackers can target anyone, and everyone will be at some point and time, either by random coincidence or due to their profile at an organization. The second point is that training must be continual—we recommend once every quarter. Cybercriminals and cybercrime are constantly evolving. Your training needs to stay ahead of emerging threats.
4. Work with a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP)
As you can see from the above, branch network security encompasses a broad range of IT infrastructure, hardware, software, and training—all of which must be continually updated to stay ahead of new exploits and attacks. It’s also just the tip of the iceberg regarding cybersecurity at scale.
And depending on your industry, customers, and regulatory obligations, there could be a host of compliance concerns that require specialized approaches to and solutions for branch network security.
This can be far too much for many internal teams to manage, particularly if they have responsibilities beyond network security. But with an expert organization that offers security as a service, you can have a single-source solution for all of your cybersecurity needs. When you consider the potential costs of a data breach and the most profitable uses of internal IT resources, an MSSP can pay for itself many times over.
IPC Tech and CCaaS
Many people view IPC as a provider of communications technology, but what we really do is open doors of communication between businesses and their customers. The technology is just how we accomplish that mission. To that end, we work with all the leading providers of CCaaS solutions, including InContact, RingCentral, Talkdesk, Five9, and more.
That’s why it’s key for businesses who want to adopt a CCaaS platform to work with an expert like IPC Tech. There are many different providers with overlapping and contrasting features and benefits. Understanding each one enables us to make the best match with a business and its customers.
Have You Explored Our Network and Cybersecurity Solutions?
If you have multiple branches or plan on doing so, make sure you reach out to us for a consultation. With more than 40 years of experience, we can not only make any network more secure, but we can also make it more efficient and cost-effective.
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